By Lethbridge Herald on July 2, 2020.
Lethbridge Herald — taber
The Kenney government announced it would be spending $150 million over the next three years to twin Highway 3 between Taber and Burdett as part of its stimulus efforts for southern Alberta.
Premier Jason Kenney made the welcome announcement on Thursday in Taber alongside Transportation Minister Ric McIver, Associate Minister Grant Hunter and MLAs, reeves and mayors from most of the surrounding communities.
Kenney acknowledged local representatives and officials had been advocating for the twinning of Highway 3 for a long time through successive provincial governments, and said he was pleased to make the funding announcement on Thursday to show those efforts were finally paying off.
“I know a lot of you folks have been pushing for this for a long time,” Kenney said to the exuberant crowd in Taber. “I want to say thank you for your patience. Unfortunately, it took a crisis to finally get it done, but we’re going to get a lot done right now … This is partly about strengthening the ability of the huge agro-business sector in this region to move its ever-expanding volumes of raw and processed food products to national and international markets; and so this isn’t just about cars and trucks going up the road.
“This is about a big, long-term strategic plan to have the infrastructure to support growth in our dynamic ag sector,” he stated. “Speeding up diversification of Alberta’s economy is a key goal of our recovery plan.”
The twinning work should begin in 2021, confirmed McIver, and be completed by 2023. It is expected the project will create about 750 jobs and twin about 46 kilometres of roadway when it is complete.
Highway 3 Twinning Association president Bill Chapman thanked the premier and the minister for their support for the project, and began his comments by acknowledging the pain of all the families of those individuals who have passed in accidents on the highway over the years.
“Every section of highway that is twinned saves lives, and I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said.
Chapman then detailed the huge economic benefits to the region of having a twinned highway infrastructure.
“Highway 3 is one of the remaining highways in Alberta on the national highway system that is not fully twinned,” he said, highlighting the vast regional agricultural system and other local industries that rely on the highway as their main conduit to get crops and goods to market. “For every dollar the government spends on this project there will be a three-dollar return on investment.”
While thankful for this major provincial investment, and the highway work which will be completed over the next three years, Chapman said the eventual goal is to get every single kilometre of Highway 3 twinned from the Saskatchewan border all the way to British Columbia border, and even beyond.
“Our stakeholders see twinning as truly a prerequisite for economic growth,” he emphasized.
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